Made you look

LOOK3 Festival of the Photograph

Frans Lanting

CLOSER LOOK

Here are five of the featured photographers who will display their work and give artist talks at the LOOK3 Festival of the Photograph.

1. Nick Brandt

Nick Brandt, "Wasteland With Elephant," 2015
Nick Brandt, “Wasteland With Elephant,” 2015

With a focus on East Africa, Nick Brandt’s work examines the devastation of urban development and poaching through panoramic black and white photographs. Brandt juxtaposes lush photographs of native animals with the stark rubble and detritus of modern cities in the region. The elephants, giraffes and other species are shown on oversized photographic panels that have been installed in the middle of urban landscapes amongst glue-sniffing children, industrial plants, homeless camps and landfills. Contextually jarring, the images embrace before and after, asking us to consider the impacts of our modern disconnect with nature. (Artist talk 7:30-9pm June 16)

2. Graciela Iturbide

Graciela Iturbide, "Mujer ángel. Desierto de Sonora, México," 1979
Graciela Iturbide, “Mujer ángel. Desierto de Sonora, México,” 1979

As a native and current resident of Mexico City, Graciela Iturbide uses photography to shine light on hidden corners of her country and other parts of Latin America. Equal parts documentarian and fine-art photographer, she has trained a lens on indigenous peoples of Mexico, birds, funerary rituals and her world travels. Evocative and surrealistic at times, her black and white images are textured yet sparse. Iturbide has published and exhibited extensively around the world since the 1980s. She has also won countless awards for her work, and is one of the most notable Mexican photographers in recent decades. (Artist talk 5-6:30pm June 17)

3. Yuri Kozyrev

Yuri Kozyrev from "A Mass Migration Crisis" series
Yuri Kozyrev from “A Mass Migration Crisis” series

A photojournalist by trade, Yuri Kozyrev has documented conflicts ranging from the collapse of the Soviet Union to the Iraq War and, recently, the revolutions and the aftereffects in Libya and Egypt. His unposed images present these conflicts at a human level, from a kneeling man on a prayer rug amidst refugee camp beds to a child twirling in the abandoned street of a bombed neighborhood. As viewers, we are invited to inhabit these moments down to the smallest background detail. In addition to publishing work in international news outlets, he has exhibited widely and won a variety of awards. (Kozyrev’s artist talk was canceled, but his work will be on display through July 10 near the Free Speech Wall.)

4. Frans Lanting

Frans Lanting, "Desert spadefoot toad," Australia
Frans Lanting, “Desert spadefoot toad,” Australia

As a nature photographer, Frans Lanting transcends expectations of the genre. Whether documenting landscapes or individual species, his images abstract the organic to create colorful works that showcase the diversity and beauty of life on our planet. His subjects range from cheetahs and silhouetted trees on the savanna to penguin-speckled icebergs or the pitted and pocked hide of an iguana. Through photographs and multimedia projects, he strives to bring awareness to conservation issues and environmental preservation initiatives. His work is often featured in National Geographic and he was named the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year in 1991. (Artist talk from 7:30-9pm June 15)

5. Olivia Bee

Olivia Bee, "Pre-Kiss," 2010
Olivia Bee, “Pre-Kiss,” 2010

The youngest of this year’s featured photographers, Olivia Bee’s first monograph was published in March. Its title, “Kids In Love,” is an apt description of her oeuvre—images of youthful spontaneity, from lovers’ tangled limbs to skinny-dippers in mountain lakes. A grainy sensuality elevates her photographs from Instagram to gallery. Color plays a large role in her work as well, with the rich hues and suffused light of old Kodak stock. It feels deeply nostalgic, despite featuring Bee’s own friends and life as a 22-year-old. She has exhibited internationally and produces work for various editorial publications and fashion brands. (Artist talk 11am-1pm June 17)—Sarah Lawson

FOCAL POINTS

Mary F. Calvert, photojournalist who for the past three years has focused on the abuse of women in the U.S. Armed Forces
Mary F. Calvert, "Melissa A. Ramon, Pamona CA"
Mary F. Calvert, “Melissa A. Ramon, Pamona CA”

Describe a joyful experience you’ve had as a photographer.

My most joyful experience as a photographer was probably when I realized that my work could actually make a difference in a stranger’s life.

Ten years ago, I was sent to Ethiopia by my newspaper to work on a political assignment that I thought was rather dry, so I decided to find something compelling that I could work on. During my research on women’s health I began to see articles about a childbirth injury called obstetric fistula and the hospital that cared for women suffering from it in the capital, Addis Ababa. I pitched it to my bosses who said, “Sure, do it.”

When I arrived at the hospital I was very moved by the women and what they had been through. Obstetric fistula happens during childbirth when a baby gets stuck in the birth canal. Some of these women go through 10 days of obstructed labor, deliver a stillborn child and are then left terribly incontinent. They have to live in isolation away from their families and neighbors because they smell and leak urine and/or feces everywhere. The lucky ones make their way to the Hamlin Fistula Hospital and after a fairly simple surgery that costs about $580, most can go home cured. I had never done a story like this, where my work could bring awareness to the issue and inspire people to help. I was inspired to seek out more projects about under-reported and neglected gender-based human rights issues.

Ten years later I am back in Ethiopia to do a project for Hamlin Fistula USA. I just made some photographs of post-operative patients in their ward at the Hamlin Fistula Hospital.

Doug DuBois, associate professor at Syracuse University whose photographs are in the Museum of Modern Art collection in New York City, San Francisco MOMA, the J. Paul Getty Museum and Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Doug Dubois, "Jordan up the Pole," 2010
Doug Dubois, “Jordan up the Pole,” 2010

Talk about a photo you display in your home.

I have a self portrait by LaToya Ruby Frazier hanging in the room that houses all my photo books. In the image she is suffering from an attack of lupus but stares at the camera with unshakable determination. The photograph asks for no sympathy and motivates me to get off my ass and get back to work.

Binh Danh, assistant professor at the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts at Arizona State University. In college he invented a unique process for transferring photographic images onto the surfaces of leaves via photosynthesis.
Binh Danh, "Lower Yosemite Falls," 2011
Binh Danh, “Lower Yosemite Falls,” 2011

What is the most dangerous situation a photograph has put you in?

In a recent situation, I found myself on the edge of a cliff with no barriers and a 1,000-foot-drop to the bottom, standing on the edge with my 8″x10″ view camera mounted to my tripod trying to make a photograph of Horseshoe Bend on the Colorado River in Arizona. Next to me are many other photographers, which is pretty much anyone with a cell phone camera these days, trying to make the same image. The good thing that they did not have to do is go under a dark cloth. While under the dark cloth examining my composition, I was aware of my feet planted on the ground, not moving them in any sudden directions in fear of stepping in the wrong one and killing myself just to make a photograph.

Sheila Pree Bright, a fine-art photographer known for her photographic series “Young Americans, Plastic Bodies, and Suburbia”
Sheila Pree Bright, "1960Now Atlanta," 2015
Sheila Pree Bright, “1960Now Atlanta,” 2015

What’s the topic or subject of the most recent photo you’ve taken?

The most recent photo I’ve taken is of my mentor, Dr. Herbert Eichelberger, a professor at Clark Atlanta University in Atlanta, Georgia. He’s engaging with a Kodak box camera, sharing his stories about his early encounter with the archetype, the subject of his new book, called The Magic Black Box.

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A LITTLE PERSPECTIVE

C-VILLE Weekly’s photo contest entries show life from all angles

All of the close to 200 submissions in our photo contest had a unifying theme: snapshots of life around these parts. From enjoying the view (and a glass of wine or two!) at a vineyard, to shows at the Southern or panoramic shots of IX Art Park, to quieter moments such as children playing in the yard or a mother bear corralling her cubs across a road in Shenandoah National Park, they all represent our way of life. 

This year we partnered with the LOOK3 Festival of the Photo for our contest, which awarded festival passes to the first- and second-place winners. Mary Virginia Swanson, festival director, served as our contest judge.

See more photos on Instagram #cvillephotocontest

Meet the judge

Photo: Stefan Wachs
Photo: Stefan Wachs

Mary Virginia Swanson, executive director of the LOOK3 Festival of the Photograph, has a master of fine arts in photography from Arizona State University, and has directed educational programs for The Friends of Photography including the Ansel Adams Workshop, headed special projects at Magnum Photos and, in 1991, founded SWANSTOCK, a photo agency that managed licensing rights for fine art photographers. “In graduate school I just couldn’t decide if I wanted to make a living with my camera or with photography,” she says. After working at the student-run gallery in grad school, “a great combination of a museum and nonprofit,” her future was solidified. “I decided in the end what I really loved was working with photographs and working with photographers.”

Swanson still takes photos all the time—mostly on her iPhone, she admits begrudgingly, “because they (the photos) don’t seem to exist in prints beyond that.” She recently downloaded 14,000 photos off her phone, shot over the course of three months. “I shoot every day, no question,” she says.

1st

Becky Venteicher took this photo of her 5-year-old son, Jude, last fall at Carter Mountain Orchard while picking apples with her family. The photo was taken with her DSLR, a Nikon D700, and then converted to black and white in post-processing.
Becky Venteicher took this photo of her 5-year-old son, Jude, last fall at Carter Mountain Orchard while picking apples with her family. The photo was taken with her DSLR, a Nikon D700, and then converted to black and white in post-processing.

 “Like most kids his age, my son can be a hard one to capture—constantly moving! On this morning, I asked him to stand still for a portrait in the fog, but he was too immersed in imagination and exploration to cooperate. So we told him he could pick out a pumpkin for himself, and that’s what you see here—circling the patch in search of the one. He’s shirtless due to having found his way into some mud puddles minutes before this. Hardly anyone was at the orchard that morning [because of] the drizzle and fog, so luckily I didn’t have any bystanders to contend with. This moment unfolded so naturally. There’s something to be said for letting kids just be themselves—that’s where the magic happens.”

JUDGE’S COMMENT This image has strong graphic elements, many layers of metaphor and a human for scale. Within the carefully composed composition, we see a field of harvested pumpkins on the left, a central path down which the young person is walking and the rather minimal landscape to the right of the frame. So many interpretations can apply: the journey forward into adulthood for this young person, traversing two opposite realities. As in life, it is somewhere between the complex (left) and pastoral (right) that one finds balance.

What subjects do you gravitate toward?

I’m passionate about finding magic in so-called ordinary moments. It stretches me and can even help me find gratitude on a hard day. Nature is another love of mine. I’ve recently gotten into star photography, which I find absolutely magical. There is so much more light out there than we can see with our naked eyes—the camera is a wonderful tool for capturing that. It’s a good metaphor for life.

 

Do you have a favorite place to take photos locally?

Besides my home, my husband and I like to take the kids outside and to the mountains whenever possible. In fact, one of our favorite family sayings is, “Good things happen when you go outside.” (Cheesy but true!)

 

Would you say you have a certain photographic style?

I’m not sure I have a style per se, but I enjoy capturing photographs that make me feel something. My favorite photographs have come from taking a fly on the wall-type approach: quietly watching and waiting patiently.

 

Are there any local photographers you admire? Any local Instagram feeds you follow for photography? 

I love Cat Thrasher’s work, especially her beautiful black and whites. I’m fairly new to Instagram so I haven’t yet followed anyone in particular, though Charlottesville is rich with beautiful, artistic talent. Globally, I’m part of a collaboration of female photographers that inspire me tremendously, both personally and professionally. We’re located all around the world and we keep in touch each week photographically with a project called, Wish You Were Here.

 

What’s the best piece of photography advice you’ve gotten/piece of advice you would like to pass on to aspiring photographers?

The most poignant bit of advice I’ve received is to keep going. Keep making photographs for the love of it and never stop exploring. Know that it can take years to really learn the craft; be patient with yourself. Sometimes plan A doesn’t work, embrace plan B (or C or D)! As one of my favorite writers, David duChemin, said on this subject: “Failure is a much more faithful teacher than immediate success (which isn’t usually what it seems).”

 

2nd

Herb Stewart took this photo in March 2014 at his Ivy home, which he shares with his wife, Albemarle Board of Supervisors Chair Liz Palmer, and their dog, Alice, the subject of the image. It was taken with a Nikon D3100 DSLR, with a Nikkor 55-300mm lens at 62mm. It was shot in color with minimal post-processing.
Herb Stewart took this photo in March 2014 at his Ivy home, which he shares with his wife, Albemarle Board of Supervisors Chair Liz Palmer, and their dog, Alice, the subject of the image. It was taken with a Nikon D3100 DSLR, with a Nikkor 55-300mm lens at 62mm. It was shot in color with minimal post-processing.

“I had gone out to play in the snow with Alice, and grabbed my camera because the wet snow was clinging to the trees in interesting ways. I walked into the front yard and was struck by how the trees were creating a multitude of arches over the driveway. I took a couple of shots and then Alice ran up ahead into the frame, stopped briefly and looked back and forth as if to say “Come on!” Of three or four shots, this was the one where everything seemed to be in place. I like that it’s hard to tell whether she’s looking forward or backward.”

JUDGE’S COMMENT I experienced a quiet, calming feel as I first gazed upon this beautiful monotone image of the black dog in the lush winter landscape. A true study in contrast. Yet some viewers may feel a sense of fear as the large, almost wolf-like creature is looking straight at the viewer. Predator or pet? We don’t have any visual clues to answer this question, so the unresolved emotions remain with us long past gazing at the image.

What subjects do you gravitate toward?

I like to hike, climb and travel, so I take a lot of landscape and nature photos. Another of my avocations is politics, and I’m married to Liz Palmer, chair of the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors, so in the past few years I’ve enjoyed doing some photography for local campaigns and events. Recently I’ve been trying to learn portrait photography.

 

Do you have a favorite place to take photos locally?

Sugar Hollow and Jones Run/Doyles River, St. Mary’s Wilderness, my backyard. Among my favorite local events are the annual July 4th Naturalization Ceremony at Monticello, the Independence Day parade in Crozet and Batesville Day.

 

Would you say you have a certain photographic style?

I tend toward a straightforward documentary style, in color, minimally processed. I like photo series using a combination of wide/panoramic shots to set the stage, then close-ups using a long lens to isolate the subject.

 

Any there any local photographers you admire? Any local Instagram feeds you follow for photography?

I’ve always been a big fan of National Geographic photography, and it’s remarkable that three of the best—Sam Abell, Nick Nichols, and William Albert Allard —have chosen to live here and have helped create Look3. (Sam Abell, asked recently why he chose to live here when he could live anywhere in the world, replied, “One word – zoning.”) I like my friend Michael Bailey’s distinctive photos of Blackfriars and UVA drama productions. Andrew Shurtleff and Ryan Kelly do excellent photojournalism. I like M.C. Andrews’ landscape work. I tend to be on Facebook rather than Instagram and like some of the local feeds like “Blue Ridge Trails Exiting I-64.”

 

What’s the best piece of photography advice you’ve gotten/piece of advice you would like to pass on to aspiring photographers?

I’ve enjoyed attending workshops by Sam Abell and like his advice to “Compose your scene, then wait…” and “Bad weather makes for good photographs.” Bill Allard advised his audience to study the great paintings. I’d say study the great works of photojournalism like The Family of Man and the masters like Ansel Adams and the WPA photographers, look at what’s being published in magazines like Time and National Geographic and on the front pages of major newspapers by photographers like Lynsey Addario, go to exhibits and look at online collections like “Your Shot,” and attend talks at events like Look3. Take a lot of pictures. And take any advice with a grain of salt.

3rd

Jennifer Billingsly, a pre-K/kindergarten teacher at Congregation Beth Israel, snapped this photo right before Thanksgiving break. The class was walking to the Free Speech Wall to draw and write things they were thankful for. The photo was shot with a Canon T5i, DSLR.
Jennifer Billingsly, a pre-K/kindergarten teacher at Congregation Beth Israel, snapped this photo right before Thanksgiving break. The class was walking to the Free Speech Wall to draw and write things they were thankful for. The photo was shot with a Canon T5i, DSLR.

“I always have my camera at work (documentation is a big part of the teaching process at CBI). I remember just how beautiful the slanting November light was that afternoon, and I took many photos of our outing, but this one caught the moment so well: two friends sharing a joke, maybe a secret, with the beautiful fall light behind them and completely unaware that I was there. I liked it the moment I took it.”

JUDGE’S COMMENT This photo is a celebration of life, friendship and more. The composition allows us to be silent observers of this private exchange at the Free Speech Wall. The photographer has included anonymous text in the foreground that lets us know that a birthday celebration has recently occurred at this spot, and at the moment the image was made, the words and the children too were virtually draped in natural light.

Any there any local photographers you admire? Any local Instagram feeds you follow for photography?

There are so many talented photographers here. I’ve always admired Bill Emory, Stacey Evans and Jay Kuhlman’s photographs.

Misty Mawn’s photos and paintings on Instagram.

 

What’s the best piece of photography advice you’ve gotten/piece of advice you would like to pass on to aspiring photographers?

To always have a camera/phone at hand.

HONORABLE MENTION

Photo: Amanda Vogel
Photo: Amanda Vogel
Photo: Tom Hubbard
Photo: Tom Hubbard

JUDGE’S COMMENT Both of these images celebrate the wonder of childhood, one a complex composition, the other a simple distillation of the journey ahead. Tom’s image shows a young person in a contemplative moment (right) with a strong sense of one’s imagination and wonder depicted in everything from the murals surrounding the child to the water circling outwards from below his feet. And Amanda has distilled the path of life down to basics: We take this journey through life by walking simply and repeatedly one step in front of the other.